What is the best way to get rid of stretch marks?

Female abdomen with stretch marks.

Stretch marks, or stretch marks, are deep scars that appear as streaks on the skin. There is no known non-surgical treatment to remove them completely, although there are many products and treatments available that can help lighten marks and improve the overall appearance of the skin. The best way to minimize the appearance of stretch marks is to keep your skin exfoliated and hydrated. Peels or laser treatments can be used to resurface the skin, which can make them less noticeable for some people.

Prevention and fading

A dermatologist can prescribe a cream that can reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

While there is little that can be done to prevent stretch marks in some cases, such as those that develop due to disease or genetic factors, avoiding rapid weight gain whenever possible can prevent them from developing. A healthy diet and regular exercise can often prevent a person from becoming obese or gaining a lot of weight. Building muscle mass more slowly can help prevent bodybuilders from getting stretch marks. During the period of weight gain, moisturizer should be applied to keep the skin soft and hydrated so that it is as elastic as possible.

Baking soda can be used for skin exfoliation.

Stretch marks usually start out as red streaks but usually fade to pink or white over time. While they are unlikely to go away without surgery, for most people they become much less noticeable after a few months to a year. The scar’s texture usually remains, however.


Depending on the severity and location of the scar tissue, removing the layers of dead skin can help minimize its appearance. Manual exfoliation of affected areas can be helpful, especially with newer stretch marks. Home exfoliation treatments with ingredients such as oatmeal or baking soda, or commercially prepared products can be effective for gentle skin exfoliation.

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Tests have not shown much promise for using streaked cocoa butter.

If exfoliating your skin with your hands doesn’t improve the appearance of your stretch marks, a more intensive treatment called microdermabrasion can help. This treatment involves using a device that shoots tiny, rough particles into the skin to remove the top layers. As new skin grows, the appearance of scars may improve. Some studies suggest that, if repeated regularly, microderabrasion can allow the body to repair scars — such as stretch marks — deeper into the skin. This isn’t a good option for everyone, however, especially for those with sensitive skin.

Creams and Lotions

Some body lotions contain cocoa butter and vitamin E, each of which can help restore skin elasticity.

Many different creams and lotions claim to improve skin texture and make scars less visible. Some will provide limited results, but most preparations are only effective on newer scars, if they do. Topical treatments, including those that contain vitamin E and vitamin C, can help hydrate and promote skin health, but are unlikely to completely remove blemishes. Studies in pregnant women using creams that contained a combination of ingredients — including Gotu Kola, vitamin E, panthenol, elastin, hyaluronic acid, and menthol — showed results in reducing the occurrence and severity of stretch marks. Despite its popularity as a treatment, many studies show that creams containing cocoa butter have little effect beyond hydrating the skin.

There are prescription creams available from a dermatologist or other medical professional that can improve the appearance of stretch marks. Glycolic acid and tretinoin cream, which contains the acidic form of vitamin A, can increase collagen production, which makes the skin supple. However, these creams can damage the skin if not used correctly, and tretinoin should not be used by pregnant women because it can cause birth defects.

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chemical peels

A chemical peel uses acid to remove the top layers of skin. In most cases, a superficial peel with alpha-hydroxy or beta-hydroxy acid can even out the skin tone, but it is unlikely to do much to eliminate stretch marks. A phenol peel, also called carbolic or phenolic acid, may be more effective as it penetrates very deeply into the skin. Phenol peels can be painful, although an anesthetic is usually used. Additionally, this type of peeling can cause scarring or infection and should only be performed by a qualified medical professional.

laser resurfacing

Several types of laser treatments have shown some success with getting rid of stretch marks or at least improving their appearance, although these methods are often quite expensive. Pulsed dye laser therapy penetrates the top layer of the skin to stimulate the growth of new tissue directly in the dermis layer, where the marks are found. This method may cause bruising and change the color of the skin, and may need to be repeated for best results.

Fractional laser resurfacing, also called fractional photothermolysis, works by microscopically causing small wounds in the skin, prompting the body to make new collagen. Studies have found that this method is effective in reducing the appearance and texture of stretch marks in the majority of patients. Side effects include some redness and swelling, and it usually takes several months for improvements to be seen.


The only guaranteed option to completely remove stretch marks is through surgery, although this is not always practical, depending on where the marks are. Those on the lower stomach can be removed with a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, in which a portion of the skin on the abdomen is cut away. If the person has striae from gaining weight quickly and has since lost weight, stretch marks may be removed along with loose skin with body-contouring surgery. Surgery is often the most expensive of treatments, and will require a fairly extensive recovery time. Before resorting to cosmetic surgery, patients should discuss all appropriate treatments with a dermatologist.

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